​Influence of Annual Bluegrass on Ball Roll​

(April 25, 2018) - Annual bluegrass has long been blamed for missed golf putts. Some researchers have surmised that a golf ball's direction may be altered when the ball traverses an anomaly in the greens surface, such as annual bluegrass, but no scientific studies have tested this assumption. 

In the March-April issue of Crop Science, Virginia Tech researchers report the influence of annual bluegrass on ball roll directional imprecision and bounce following a simulated golf putt on creeping bentgrass putting greens.  The researchers found that an isolated patch of annual bluegrass increases ball directional imprecision by 8 mm m-1 compared to visibly-pure creeping bentgrass and that tools and methodology currently reported in the scientific literature are not precise enough to discern these subtle changes in direction.  Researchers used a mechanical putter to minimize directional errors, optimized ball center of gravity, eliminated legacy of repeated ball rolls, scored ball direction prior to terminal acceleration with pressure-sensitive paper, and used high-speed video and motion tracking software to measure ball wobble and bounce.

Future research will use these newly devised methodologies to help turf managers choose appropriate greens management techniques and to evaluate the performance of other devices marketed to measure green’s canopy trueness.

Read the full paper in Crop Science.